Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Critteriffic


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Sure this was supposed to be part of my viewing from last year. Doesn’t matter because I do what I want anyways. Critters 3 and 4 came as a double bill part of a four pack that I found at my local library. Neither are particularly good, yet I actually dug one a little bit. I like to finish franchises anyways, for better or for worse. The series isn’t Oscar worthy but it is fun to watch. For some reason the 80s and 90s had a lot of franchise horror, although that seemed to be the norm for Hollywood, period.

Critters 3 is not a good movie. It’s easy the worst of the series and is mostly notable for featuring a young Leonardo DiCaprio in one of the main roles. As the son of a douche bag who wants to drive off his tenants so he can build a shopping mall or something. After having the Critters take over a farmhouse and a small town an apartment building is a huge step down. Imagine if this had been a big budget film where the Crites invade a whole city. Too bad that never happened.

Still this film does have its moments and the cast isn’t bad for a poor showing. They make this crappy movie watchable and I did like some of the kills. Also for some reason (SPOILER) The film ends on a cliffhanger. I like that Terrence Mann and Don Keth Opper appear in all of the series. That’s welcomed consistency.

Now oddly enough Critters 4 was a step up and works okay as an ending to the series. Well at least it was supposed to be, since nothing ever seems to end in Hollywood. Opper and Mann return along with new additions Brad Dourif and Angela Bassett as members of a crew that finds Charlie in space. I overlooked the obvious Alien/Aliens ripoff moments and sat back and enjoyed the fact that for the first time ever the Crites were actually in space. And that this movie has a few surprises, including one I did not see coming.

Even though like the rest of the series the low budget feel is quite apparent, I still enjoyed the fourth movie. The first two entries in the series are the best, however I still recommend even seeing the last two, just to see how things shake out. Also I am a fan of even bad sci-fi, especially since we don’t get too much of the actual stuff these days. Comic book movies don’t count.

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Horrorfest 2015 Presents: The Final Terror (1983, Andrew Davis)


 

Andrew Davis’ cult classic slasher thriller The Final Terror is everything I wanted in a slasher film from the 80s. It’s a harrowing, eerie and suspenseful film that once things go south becomes relentless. I like that there is literally no soundtrack at times, and the film’s cast is quite famous for a low budget 80s horror movie. Davis went on to big budget films such as Under Siege and The Fugitive, two other famous thrillers. The wilderness setting is perfect for such a movie, although granted the I it doors was featured in many slasher movies released during that era.

The cast doesn’t hurt either: you have a young Daryl Hannah, Rachel Ward, Adrian Zmed and Joe Pantoliano. Although there are some typical slasher cliches I liked that this film has its own surprises and is better directed than many films of the early 80s. Davis showcased a natural talent early on and went on to fulfill that promise. If only more 80s slasher had been as great as this one.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Night of the Demons 2 (1994, Brian Trenchard-Smith)


Many horror sequels have a high rate of diminishing returns. However in the case of Night of the Demons 2 the sequel is that rare one that inproves upon the original. Although the first one didn’t set the bar very high-yet I did enjoy it despite it’s low budget and B movie cast. The sequel continues along the same lines, mixing dark humor with gross out gore.

Also this film has some star power in a young, not yet famous Christine Taylor, who has since appeared in many famous comedies. Plus the characters here are better than the ones in the first film. I rather liked Mouse, yet its Gloria, the take no prisoners nun, who is the film’s main attraction. Naturally Angela returns to wreck more havoc, which makes me wonder why people would go into a cursed old house in the first place. Oh right, it’s a horror movie.

One of the best nasty moments is when one of the possessed girls spouts an arm out of her chest,  using it to nab a perverted greaser. Sure this isn’t high art and I’m sure they ripped off The Evil Dead II, yet I was entertained. Besides this film has an Uzi filled with holy water and a big grand monster style finale. I’m also wondering why a 90s movie felt like an 80s release. Odd. Good, but odd. I have little hope for the third one, and I’m amused that this is a series.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: TerrorVision (1986, Ted Nicolaou)


You can’t help but love TerrorVision’s theme song. It’s as deliciously campy as the actual film it is, and yet it doesn’t give away the film’s darker side, hinting at what will possibly happen later on in an eerie fashion. This is a horror sci-fi movie that also utilizes satire, although not to as great effect as I would like. Still this is a solid and reliable comedy with some nasty moments.

What I like about 80s horror is that it takes the harsh and brutal style of 70s horror and adds its own brand of dark comedy to the bleak horror elements. TerrorVision pokes fun at the nuclear family, war, TV (of course) and man’s stupidity. Plus even E.T. as the vapid Valley Girl daughter and her idiot boyfriend fail to realize how dangerous the alien creature is, greedily thinking of ways to exploit the monster. The parents are sex crazed money obsessed swingers; the son brainwashed by his nutjob grandpa into thinking war is fun.

Throw a vain and dumb T.V. star into the mix and you have the ingredients for an unlikable bunch of characters, which is something not found in most movies in general. What that means I’m not sure, although I guess it does feed into the film’s harsh view of the 80s. The Idiot Box summons mankind’s doom and results in a hilariously nasty moment and an unexpected conclusion. Despite being rather low budget and having some poor acting I rather enjoyed TerrorVision. Thanks goes out to my public library for enabling me to view this camp classic.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Ghoulies II (1988, Albert Band)


Unfortunately like many horror sequels this one is bad. I don’t even know why Ghoulies is a franchise in the first place seeing as the original was decent at best and it’s a pale Gremlins knockoff. Joe Dante ended his series while he was still ahead-too bad the creators of Ghoulies did not. Still there are some good moments in this movie and I’ll probably end up finishing the series up anyways just to be a completist. I must be a gluten for punishment.

I will say that the film has a pretty good setting: a down on its luck carnival under threat from the son of its owner. My problem with the main human villain is that he’s just not evil or sleazy enough for most of the movie. At first he just seems like someone trying to d his job until he goes all the mayor from Jaws and refuses to close the park after the danger becomes widespread. Most of the characters in this movie are thinly developed although that could be said of many movies that are still good. This film bounces from unfunny awful jokes to brutal not very scary violence.

Really though the biggest problem is the Ghoulies. I spent the entire movie wanting to squish some of them with lots of tissues, and calling an exterminator for the rest. The Gremlins have distinctive personalities and the Crites are wonderfully gruesome but the Ghoulies are boring. The first movie was enjoyable despite their presence. Skip this movie and watch a better creature feature.

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